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The Rice Bowl Startup Awards is the first ASEAN awards that celebrates rising startups that have embraced mobility by harnessing technology, especially in web or mobile, in redefining their business strategies. Startups who promise high growth potential and are worthy of a regional shout-out are awarded with the coveted Rice Bowl Startup Award.

“From the very beginning our goal was to celebrate the rising stars of entrepreneurship throughout Southeast Asia, and tonight’s gala honoured startups who are a clear embodiment of excellence and innovation,” said Ashran Dato’ Ghazi, Chairman of New Entrepreneurs Foundation (myNEF), last night during the gala event closing the 1 Asean Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

Image Credit: Rice Bowl Startup Awards Facebook page
Image Credit: Rice Bowl Startup Awards Facebook page

For the past one month, the top 33 finalists, out of which 9 are Malaysian startups, have received startup training worth USD15,000, media coaching, regional media exposure, and were matched with interested venture capitalists and investors by Infinite Ventures.

“Cumulatively, USD82 million in funding has been pledged by investors to date to invest in the finalists, and we are confident that this figure will expand as more investors recognise the quality and innovation of these startups,” added Ashran.

Image Credit: Rice Bowl Startup Awards Facebook page
Rice Bowl Startup Awards trophy designed by Melinda Looi International, and 3D printed by UCT Additive Manufacturing Pte Ltd. (Image Credit: Rice Bowl Startup Awards Facebook page)

The finalists were judged based on “excellence in overall experience”  by a panel of distinguished international industry experts, celebrity technology innovators, and illustrious entrepreneurs, such as Cheryl Yeoh, CEO of Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre; Matthew Badalucco, Vice President of Catcha Group; and Amran Hassan, Head of Innovation of Maybank.

From the total of 11 winners who were from various Southeast Asian countries, 3 of them were Malaysian-based startups that did the local startup community proud. Here are the 3 Malaysian startup winners of the Rice Bowl Startup Awards 2015.

Media Startup of the Year

FoodAdvisor.myfoodadvisor website






Founded by Kenny Hew, FoodAdvisor.my is a site by foodies, for foodies. It is a food review and recommendation site that lists the best dishes in Kuala Lumpur, Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, and the team is working on expanding their reach to other areas in Malaysia.

The FoodAdvisor.my team produce videos and detailed reviews for local eateries so that Malaysians are empowered to discover the best recommended food & beverages according to dish and location. They also give F&B businesses the opportunity to promote and highlight their best dishes to potential customers.

Service Startup of the Year


Image Credit: NeonRunner
Image Credit: NeonRunner

NeonRunner is an on-demand delivery and concierge service in Klang Valley, founded by M. Kanashan (CEO), and Arvind Patmarajah (CFO). Their runners go through a stringent evaluation process and 4 weeks of training to ensure that they are able to complete tasks efficiently and effectively. Only the top 5–10% are selected to stay on and they will be given the privilege to put on the NeonRunner uniform.

The co-founders believe that their runners deserve to earn a fair salary for the amount of work and hours that they put in, so NeonRunners compensate their runners double the amount of the typical minimum wage.

NeonRunner has provided our readers with a coupon code that will give you a discount of RM20. Use the coupon code ‘spocklives‘ to get the RM20 discount before the expiry date which is the 30th of November 2015.

University Startup of the Year (category sponsored by Universiti Malaya)


Image Credit: Flexilicate Facebook page
Image Credit: Flexilicate Facebook page

Flexilicate is an engineering/construction-based startup which explores the field of integrated photonics based on glass technology and polymer substrates. The team at Flexilicate, headed by Prof. Dr. Faisal Rafiq Mahamd Adikan (Director) and Dr. Ghafour Amouzad Mahdiraji (Managing Director), custom designs optical fibers for telecommunication applications, sensing, and non-linear effects.

They pride themselves as currently the only service of its kind in this region and they fabricate all types of fiber architectures with the incorporation of various additives to enhance the fibers’ performance.

The Rice Bowl Experience

CEO and founder of FoodAdvisor.my, Kenny Hew shared with Vulcan Post that the past 1 month has been an enlightening one, “Most of the startups I’ve met throughout the period has had similar journeys. Starting small, starting cheap, sleepless nights, lean operation; it is passion that has driven all of us to go on.”

“Fund-raising is super tough!” he added, referring to the effort and sacrifices needed to obtain funds, which is much harder than one would think. One thing that he’s personally learnt from the experience is that it helps to prepare 2 types of pitches, “One that has presentation slides, and another freestyle one that doesn’t have presentation slides, just in case there are technical errors that might disrupt the presentation flow.”

Neon Runner with James of Citibank Investment. (Image Credit: Rice Bowl Startup Awards Facebook page)
Neon Runner with James of Citibank Investment. (Image Credit: Rice Bowl Startup Awards Facebook page)

When asked about how they managed to emerge as the winner in the Media Startup of the Year category, Kenny said that he felt the panel of judges were impressed with their growth rate that was without any marketing funds, their growth strategy, and the huge opportunity that FoodAdvisor.my has in the F&B industry.

Moving forward from this win, Kenny intends to focus on improving their traction and sales, “Putting fund-raising aside as a bonus, we will find other cheaper (or even free) solutions to grow as quickly as possible.”

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